Is Ferrari Really Serious About Quitting Formula One?
It could happen if the current engine proposals are approvedby Kirby, on
Liberty Media’s plan to reshape Formula One in the competitive image it wants is already getting some blowback from some of the sport’s top teams and, to no one’s surprise, Ferrari is right in the middle of it. Worse, Ferrari isn’t just up-in-arms over Liberty’s plans. To be more specific Ferrari is up-in-arms over the engine proposals set for 2021 - so much so that it’s actually threatening to quit the sport entirely if the proposals are enacted. Yep. Imagine Formula One without Ferrari in it. You can’t? Well, neither can I because that’d be like Major League Baseball not having the New York Yankees or the NBA suddenly finding itself without the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s unfathomable to think about and yet, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has made no bones about his plans to take the Prancing Horse out of the sport if the new proposals did not “deliver a platform that was beneficial to Ferrari’s brand and its marketplace.”
The big issue that has Ferrari questioning its motivations to continue racing in Formula One involves the aforementioned engine proposal. And, in a weird twist, it’s not the only high-profile team to voice its objections. Mercedes-Benz and Renault are also concerned about the engine proposal and while neither has threatened to quit the sport entirely like Ferrari just did, it speaks to the significance of the issue that these three teams are in unison in voicing their displeasure over the proposal. For his part, Marchionne isn’t mincing his words regarding the automaker’s position. "I understand that Liberty may have taken these into account in coming up with their views, but I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play."
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What’s the issue with the engine proposal?
Liberty Media’s proposal involves dramatically changing the physical and functional makeups of the current 1.6-liter turbo V-6 hybrid engine
I’ll be the first to say that I still don’t fully understand the intricacies of the proposal, but judging from the reactions of Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault, it’s all tied into the increased costs that the three automakers (they also happen to be three of the four engine manufacturers of the sport together with Honda) will have to incur in the development of a new engine concept.
Essentially, Liberty Media’s proposal involves dramatically changing the physical and functional makeups of the current 1.6-liter turbo V-6 hybrid engine. While the proposal does call for keeping the current architecture, it also proposes to remove one of its two hybrid elements, increase the power of the other, introduce driver-controlled hybrid features and deployment, and standardizing specific parts that will be used in the development of the engine.
Mercedes, Renault, and now Ferrari are all in agreement that such a step would actually trigger immense costs
It is somewhat ironic that part of the proposal’s objective is to “reduce costs,” when both Mercedes, Renault, and now Ferrari are all in agreement that such a step would actually trigger immense costs, not just in building the engines themselves, but in researching and developing the tech that will allow it to adhere to Liberty Media’s rules for the sport. Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff explained it in simple terms, telling the BBC that the engine proposal “will trigger immense costs just for the sake of having a new concept.”
His counterpart in Renault, Cyril Abiteboul, even agreed, saying that the new proposal would force engine manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, and Honda) to make substantial development and financial commitment without an understanding of the broader picture of what F1 would look like past 2020.”
Granted, a meeting of the minds has been set for the next week between Liberty Media, the FIA, and the team bosses. Marchionne addressed this in his conference call with Ferrari shareholders, saying that the Italian automaker will walk into the meeting “with the best of intentions.”
Here’s to hoping those best intentions bear fruit because the thought of Formula One without Ferrari in it is going to be a crucial blow to the sport.
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